November 16, 2020

Tearful Armenians Bid Farewell to Dadivank Monastery Before Leaving Region

Armenians in the disputed Kalbajar district, Nagorno-Karabakh, bid farewell to the ninth century Dadivank Monastery on November 13 as the area is being returned to Azerbaijan under a Russia-brokered deal.
As a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh war in 2020 which resulted in a cease-fire agreement stipulating an Armenian withdrawal from Dadivank and a hand-over of the surrounding area to Azerbaijan, the Abbot of the Dadivank Monastery decided to bring the monastery's Christian art of significance, including bells and khachkars, to Armenia. After the withdrawal of Armenian forces from the region, the monastery was placed under the protection of the Russian peacekeeping forces.
It is believed the Dadivank Monastery will now suffer the same fate as Hagia Sophia and Chora Monastery, being turned into a mosque.
Footage by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty shows some weeping as they said farewell to the religious complex.
Some people set their homes on fire with the principal of the local school burning both the school building and his home, RFE/RL correspondent Susan Badalian said.
One local priest, Father Hovhannes, told RFL/RL that he will not leave, and that he had arranged for two 800-year-old stone crosses, or khachkars, to be relocated to Armenia.
“I hope that these cross-stones [that are being relocated] will eventually return here to where they belong. I still cherish this hope,” Hovannes said
Kalbajar is the first of several territories that are being handed back to Azerbaijan under the agreement.